Every beginning has an end. And this time, Google is saying goodbye to one of the most pivotal updates to its mobile operating system, as the company suspends support for Android Ice Cream Sandwich. Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) or Android 4.0 introduced a lot of features that contributed to the dominance of Android on the market today. After seven years, support for Ice Cream Sandwich will be discontinued, and Android devices running this mobile OS version will find it hard to download compatible apps and services from hereon.
Why Is Android Ice Cream Sandwich Important?
Android 4.0 was announced in October 2011 during a Hong Kong event. The original date of announcement coincided with the death of Steve Jobs, so Google decided to hold off the event out of respect for the Apple founder.
ICS was also the first Android version which design head and computer interface designer Matias Duarte had been working on extensively. Although Honeycomb was the first release that featured major elements of his design, Ice Cream Sandwich could be said to be the embodiment of Duarte’s design concepts.
The release of ICS was a crucial point in Android’s history because it unified the Android mobile OS that had been split into two branches 18 months before the release of Android 4.0. Prior to ICS, there had been Android Gingerbread for mobile phones and Android Honeycomb for tablets. Android 4.0 has brought these two branches together into a single OS for all Android devices.
Ice Cream Sandwich has introduced a lot of features that defined the Android OS of today. You can still see many of these features, such as face unlock, screen capture, the navigation bar, and individually swiping notifications, in the newer Android versions. ICS completely redesigned the look and feel of the Android OS, which had been inconsistent and unorganized before 4.0.
But even though Ice Cream Sandwich heralded a new era for the Android OS, the saying “all good things must come to an end” holds true. Google has recently announced that Ice Cream Sandwich support will be suspended to make way for better and more innovative Android versions.
Saying Goodbye to Android 4.0
Android 4.0 was released seven years ago, and only less than one percent of the Android population is using this version. Google said that the end of support for Ice Cream Sandwich will not impact many people because of the version’s extremely low usage share.
Many apps and services actually stopped supporting Android 4.0 a long time ago, and those that still do never seem to work at all. Most of Google’s current apps have already been optimized for Android 4.1 and later.
However, this doesn’t mean that the 1% of devices who are still using Ice Cream Sandwich will suddenly drop dead or won’t work anymore. The devices will still work, and so will the apps installed on these devices.
This change just means that those devices running Android 4.0 will no longer receive Play Store support and updates. These devices will not have access to the new versions of Play Services and will be forever stuck at Android Package Kit (APK) 14.7.99. And if Google Play Services is not updated, most integrated Google functionalities will fail over time. Even those apps that claim to support ICS will end up broken in the end because the Play Services components no longer work.
Google will also stop allowing developers to publish apps that support API 14 and 15, which are the API levels for ICS. So the oldest Android version supported by apps in Google Play Store will be Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) with API 16.
What Should Android 4.0 Users Do?
According to Google, there are exactly 0.3 percent or roughly six million Ice Cream Sandwich users left of the more than two billion Android devices. Android users have upgraded to later versions of the OS, with most of them running either Marshmallow or Nougat. The latest version of the mobile OS that is generally available is Android 9.0 Pie which was released last August 2018.
With the end of Ice Cream Sandwich support, Android 4.0 users may want to consider upgrading their device. Even though these devices can still be used for the meantime, using a device that will soon be dead is not practical. Aside from lack of support, outdated apps are prone to security issues. It will be risky to continue using these mobile phones because there will no longer be security patches available to protect the devices from malware.
What Android 4.0 owners can do is let go of these devices and upgrade to one running a newer version of the OS. But before you get rid of your device, make sure to delete all your personal data first and remove all junk files, using an app such as Outbyte Android Care, to avoid data leak.
Android 4.0 was one of the key updates in Android’s history, but Google is moving on from Ice Cream Sandwich for good this time. And it might not be such a bad thing because it will pave the way for better and more creative versions.